Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekly Journal #1: no really, why are you taking this class?

This blog will consist of two distinct (but hopefully related) types of journal entries: "process" journal entries, which will describe my progress in the class as I strive to understand my own personal creative process, and "weekly" journals, where I will do some sketching and respond to a question or two posed by my instructor. This week's questions are as follows:

Think about what you would like to learn in this class and set a few goals for yourself. What would you like to be able to do by the end of the semester? Also, since many of you have majors and concentrations outside of theater, write about how your work in the theater (or scenic design specifically) connects with your primary area of study and what skills do they share in common.

Now that I've warmed up a bit to the level of "artsy" that's going to be involved in this class, I'm actually getting a little excited for it. A few semesters ago I took a course called "Fundamentals of Music" precisely because I knew nothing at all about music (I mean really, I didn't know what a chord was), and was tired of my ignorance. But I've come to learn that sometimes it's even better to learn new things that you didn't even know you wanted to learn. I mean, I was well aware of my lack of musical ability, and wanted to change that. I am equally aware of my lack of artistic ability, and didn't feel particularly moved to do anything about it. I registered for this class not understanding exactly what it would be about, and now I find myself on the path of learning about something new that I didn't even want to learn- and those are usually the things you need to learn the most. I hope that made any sense at all, but the point is, I've changed my mind- now I'm looking forward to learning a little about art and design. In a few days we'll be working on gesture drawing, and while part of my brain is rebelling against the very idea ("seriously? gesture drawing? who cares? also, that will not end well"), part of me is excited- it would be really cool to be able to draw even relatively well. I obviously don't think that an hour of drawing instruction is going to turn me into an artist, but I am currently limited to stick figures, so it shouldn't be hard to improve.

I'm also looking forward to earning an appreciation for art. After taking my one semester of music, I suddenly realized that music sounded different. Learning what a chord was made some subtle yet enormous difference in the way I listened to music. My mind was opened to new things- I even discovered a few pieces of classical music that I really liked. I therefore suspect that there might be types of art that I also like. (I spent a lot of time traveling in Europe over the past year, and have therefore seen more Renaissance paintings of Jesus than any one person should be subjected to in a lifetime, despite the fact that I knew I didn't really care for the style after the first 3 or so.) And I'm looking forward to finding them.

Bringing the topic a little closer to the actual purpose of the class (and away from the vague discussions of "art in general"), I'm looking forward to doing some theater from a different perspective. I really enjoyed acting classes but I've unfortunately never actually worked on a theatrical production- so my view of the process is very one-dimensional. It will be interesting to force myself to analyze a play from the point of view of someone who will not be standing on the stage the entire time.

So to summarize, my goals for this class (in increasing order of grandiose vagueness):
1. To acquire some basic artistic skills, like sketching and painting.
2. To acquire another way of looking at theater (specifically from the point of view of a designer).
3. To learn to appreciate art.

As for my life outside of theater, this class will definitely have a much more direct relationship to my primary major than all of my previous theater experiences. Acting classes are a lot of fun, but are only related to the infrequent presentations I'm required to give in mechanical engineering- it's hard to connect Shakespeare and control systems without really, really awful nerd jokes that are likely to lose you some friends. A design class is much more likely to come in handy- especially considering that as of right now, I'd like to focus on product design. In fact, now that I think about it, it strikes me as kind of odd that there isn't a required design course in mechanical engineering. There are plenty of classes about the product design process, but the subject of making a product visually appealing is only briefly addressed. Design considerations like color and proportion are really not all that different between theater and product design. Obviously the goals are quite different, but I suspect the underlying principles to be almost identical.
In conjunction with these musings, I created 3 blind contour sketches. What's that, you ask? Maybe you don't care much, but I am most certainly going to explain it to you before I go ahead and post my drawings, because trust me, they require some justification. Here are the rules of blind contour sketching:
1. You must draw for 3 minutes.
2. Your pencil may never be lifted from the page.
3. You may not look at your paper. At all.

Now that we all appreciate the difficulty of the task at hand, I am proud (?) to present my first forays into the world of art:

Do you know what they are?

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